Lawsuit alleges truck driver’s ‘gross negligence’ in deadly Cumberland County crash

Accident in Cumberland County from Kris Cole (Kris Cole)

CROSSVILLE (WATE) – Attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against a Middle Tennessee trucking company saying their driver’s “gross negligence” is what caused a Cumberland County crash in November that killed three people.

The crash happened on Interstate 40 on November 11. The Tennessee Highway Patrol says a truck tractor not hauling anything, driven by Erik New, 44, was going eastbound when, for unknown reasons, it crossed the median and went into the westbound lanes.

Previous story: 3 dead, 1 injured in fiery Cumberland County crash

The truck hit a Nissan Sentra driven by Nancy Tooley, 50, causing it to go airborne and start rolling before coming to a rest in the grassy area to the right of the westbound shoulder. New’s truck then went on to hit a tractor trailer hauling automobiles driven by Noel Feliciano head on. Both vehicles stopped in the middle of the westbound lanes and burst into flames.

New, Tooley and Feliciano were all pronounced dead on the scene. Nancy Tooley’s passenger, Jack Tooley, 66, survived, but ended up with serious injuries.

More online: Read the full lawsuit [PDF]

The federal lawsuit was filed against trucking company Rock Island Express on behalf of Jack Tooley and Nancy Tooley’s estate. It claims that New operated the truck in a “grossly negligent, wanton, reckless and careless manner, failing to maintain a proper lookout for other vehicles so near to his intended line of travel as to be in danger of collision and failing to maintain proper control…”

The suit says New’s actions led to the death of Nancy Tooley and to Jack Tooley’s injuries and that Rock Island did not live up to its duties to hire, train or supervise its employees, The suit also claims Rock Island did not live up to its duties to inspect and maintain its vehicles.

The Tooley family is seeking monetary damages as well as a trial by jury.

Attorney Scott Hickman, who represents Rock Island Express, issued the following statement:

Our firm represents Joe and Freda Scott and the interests of their driver, Erik New, who passed away in the accident on November 11, 2016.  The accident and its cause are still being investigated, and as the matter progresses and additional information becomes available, we and our clients will continue to be engaged and in communication with those individuals involved in the accident or their representatives.

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